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Policy level Contributions

Development of waste land, Afforestation and Watershed Management

India has 329 million hectares of land out of which almost 50% land is barren or unproductive Problem of unemployment and poverty in the rural areas cannot be solved unless we take efforts to make this barren land into productive land. Vanarai was the first organization to raise this me and attract the nation’s attention towards this problem.

We are a forefront organization to encourage sustainable afforestation and integrated micro watershed management programs with people participation to make barren lands productive. We have distributed more than 2 crores seeds and seedlings to the farmers to promote tree plantation and thus contributed in increasing the green cover of country.

Establishment of Land Resource Department

Government of India formed a high-level committee, under the chairmanship of our founder to address the problem of wasteland in 1995. Vanarai played a key role in forming an important report of this committee Dharia Committee Report. Then government under leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee accepted many suggestions from this committee report.

One of the recommendations of report has led to setting up of an independent ‘Land Resource Department under the Ministry of Rural Development by the Government of India.

Guidance for various state governments

Vanarai’s efforts have inspired programs for watershed management and wasteland development under government schemes in various states. Under the guidance of our founder and leadership of Vanaral, the work was initiated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. Then Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Shri. Chandrababu Naidu, Gujarat’s Shri. Ashok Gehlot and Madhya Pradesh’s Shri Digvijay Singh visited Vanarai to understand the model of wasteland development and watershed management. This led to an acceleration of the process at the government level. Study tours were arranged for the farmers from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to Vamarai office and Gawadewadi village in Pune District

Rural Development Ministers, Members of Legislative Assembly and officials of related departments from Andhra Pradesh visited Gawadewadi, village developed by Vanarai to learn the techniques of effective implementation of soil-water conservation programs,

Shri. Chandrababu Naidu invited our founder to guide the water conservation programs in his state. The watershed management program was systematically implemented in 36-lakh hectares area of Andhra Pradesh in 4 years. The water level of the adjoining areas increased by 5 to 6 feet.

There was subsequent increase in the crop yield. Approximately, 3.5 million acres area was under floriculture. This area also witnessed 60% decline in migration towards urban areas for employment. Shri Naidu also said that. “with implementation of this program, water resources in Andhra Pradesh will increase in future, agricultural produce will also increase, the wasteland area will be converted in to green cover and villages will become self-reliant”

Mahatma Phule Land-Water Conservation Campaign

Andhra Pradesh campaign for the watershed management and wasteland development inspired our Chief Minister, then Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh for similar campaign in Maharashtra. This resulted in ‘Mahatma Phule Land-Water Conservation Campaign. He urged our founder to be the Chief Advisor for the campaign. This campaign has led to convert 1.45 crores hectares of wasteland into productive in 15 years,

Maharashtra faced drought in the year 2002. The campaign was implemented with full force and strength. Dr. Mohan Dharia and Government officials toured Maharashtra for this campaign. More than 11,000 villages in the state were tanker dependent and it was expected that the situation to worsen by summer end.

To encourage state government officials, NGOs, villagers and farmers to take concrete steps to overcome this situation, State Level Water Summit was organized by Vanarai. Over 300 delegates. Former Chairman of National Water Commission Dr. Madhavrao Chitale. Environmentalist Sunita Narain as well as various experts: government officials, NGOs and villagers from Maharashtra participated in this summit.

This campaign. gave an idea to formation of Jal Sena’ (Water Warriors) in tanker dependent villages, these water warriors will initiate watershed development programs in respective villages. Subsequently, the Water Warriors were formed and they initiated watershed development programs. Resulting in the number of tanker dependent villages reduce by 1500. Meanwhile, the political will for the campaign got diminished. The program got stuck into bureaucratic bottleneck. Due to bureaucratic bottleneck and political obliviousness, the campaign got off track. If the campaign had implemented as it started off, the Maharashtra would have been a better in terms of water conservation.

Joint Forest Management

Vanarai is a firm believer of participatory approach for sustainable development. We believe that if local tribes and villagers get advantage of the forest produce like fruits, flowers, fodder, tubers. honey, etc., then the forest area can be well conserved and protected.

Our founder proposed formation of Joint Forest Management Committee during his tenure as member of wasteland development board: the board approved this in 1989-90. Joint Forest Management Committees are working in many villages across the country, and remarkable work

of forest conservation in being undertaken by them. More than 17.5 million  hectares of land has been converted into green cover. Joint Forest Management Efforts of a small village Mendha Lekha in Gadchiroll District are appreciated not only at national level but also at international level.

Software for Sustainable Rural Development

India has made rapid progress in field of information technology after globalization. Various computer systems were developed in India, which were limited to increasing production of industries and making urban life better. During this period, Vanarai in collaboration with Software Institute of Rural Development developed software’s for watershed management and rural development

The softwares were related to:

  • Water conservation by water management
  • Rural water supply and sanitation
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Education and Health.
  • Monitoring system for the government

    This software’s has helped management of rural development programs and helped increase accuracy of labor and money.

    The NITI Aayog (formerly the Planning Commission), the ministers of various departments of the Central Government and various state governments praised this software system and encouraged everyone to use this:

    Various private companies are now involved in this field and developing good software’s. We shifted our focus more on field activities for sustainable rural development and environmental conservation instead of software development.

    Today’s age is of Digital India. The use of this Information Technology is increasing in all areas like agriculture technology, marketing of agriculture, forestry, rural development, water conservation, weather forecasting, good governance, socio-economic development etc. We are proud that we could contribute towards India’s Digital journey.

Employment Guarantee Scheme at Farmers doorstep

The employment guarantee scheme in Maharashtra initially was extended only limited to public works like i.e, road construction, soil and water conservation ete. But now is serving at farmer’s farm with Vanarai’s efforts. Our founder Dr. Mohan Dharia and V. S. Page, who proposed Employment Guarantee scheme, shared a very good relationship. They had a discussion to extend this scheme to reach the farms. On this line. Vanarai, started continuous follow-ups to then policy makers and state government. Eventually, the scheme could reach farmlands. As a result. thousands of acres of land in Maharashtra have now come under cultivation. Maharashtra made a significant progress in horticulture in last few years with the help of this scheme. Fortunately, the Central Government also initiated similar program under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Adarsh Goan Yojana-

Rural areas in Maharashtra were facing the problems like drought, indebtedness, addiction and unemployment. To overcome these issues and for holistic development of the villages, Vanarai took a special initiative to implement Adarsh Gaon Yojana (Model Village Scheme) through Government of Maharashtra. We played a vital role in planning and implementation of this scheme at initial stage. Our founder was one of the founder members of Adarshgaon Committee. On similar line, Madhya Pradesh Adarsh Gaon Scheme is also commenced and Central Government also announced “Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna.

The historic decision of the farmers' debt relief

In 2005-06, there was a large number of farmer’s suicide in India. Vanarai sent a detailed report to then Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. He invited a delegation in Delhi to discuss this matter under than chairmanship of our founder. There was a long discussion on this matter with Prime Minister, then Finance Minister Shri. P. Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Shri. Sharad Pawar, Minority Minister Shri. A. R. Antulay. Minister of State Prithviraj Chavan and other senior officials of respective departments.

There was no concrete assurance for debt relief, so our founder and his colleagues fasted for a week. Dr. Mohan Dharia met with then Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister again in October 2007. A positive response was noted but the decision was not in sight. In December, 2007, a conference of 1000 farmers was organized. Several demands such as debt relief, basic amenities for farming. fair prices for the farm produce, etc. were discussed in the conference. It was also suggested that few participants from this conference will travel to different regions to address this issue. Our founder himself initiated this journey by visiting most hit areas of Vidarbha in Wardha, Yavatmal and Nagpur districts to create an awareness for debt relief. Leaders and farmers from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab and other parts of country met in Janpath, Delhi for a gathering. Ultimately, the Union Finance Minister announced a loan waiver of Rs. 60.000 crores to all the farmers who have less than 5 acres of land and waived 25% loan of farmers with more than that land on 29th February 2008.

This announcement attracted various political parties to come forward to take credit of the debt relief. Nevertheless, history will never forget the struggle of our founder, Vanarai and various NGOS for loan waiver.

Confederation of NGO's of Rural India' (CNRI)

Our founder formed confederation of NGO’s of Rural India to organize NGOs working in rural

areas. This federation took concrete steps to guide NGOs to create transparency and

accountability in their procedures and have a coordination with all institutions. More than 7000

organizations from all parts of the country are members of this federation. The federation has provided a national platform to these NGOs. Stalwart like Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam have addressed the NGOs through this platform. Our president, Mr. Ravindra Dharia is currently Executive Co-Chairman of this national federation.